According to the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), Engineering is a profession in which knowledge of mathematics and natural sciences gained by study, experience, and practice is applied with judgment to develop ways to utilize economically the materials and forces of nature for the benefit of mankind.
The Faculty of Engineering in the University of Maiduguri comprises of seven (7) departments, which are The Department of Agriculture and environmental resources engineering, Chemical engineering, Civil and Water resources engineering, Computer engineering, Electrical and Electronics engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Food Science and Technology.
As it is generally known engineering is too often seen as a male career option, and there is large disparity in the ratio of men to women studying engineering and technology courses all over the world, especially in Africa; University of Maiduguri is no exception to this. It should be noted that there must be reasons for the challenges faced by the female folks, and also ways forward.
Many reasons contribute to this among which are, many female finding engineering courses very demanding because of its heavy workload and inadequate learning facilities, some ladies even have the mindset that engineering is a course meant for the guys and ladies who wants to be referred as ‘Tom boys’. Also, there is a vicious circle as the lack of female mentors makes it more challenging to inspire the next cohort of young women to enter the profession.
Parents and many career advisors are not left out as they act as barriers against the career choice instead of encouraging the young female into the thriving engineering sector. Employers also discriminate against employment of female engineers because they feel they wouldn’t be able to perform their duties properly due to various domestic worries.
Although in recent years, there has been an upward trend in the number of female students enrolled in engineering courses, but this number nevertheless is not encouraging or rather at a slow pace. There is no reason why women should not excel in engineering.
Year after year, young women are seen matching or even outclassing their male peers in mathematics and science examinations, both of who are fundamental skills for an engineer. The industry not only needs engineers who have proficient technical capabilities, but also effective communication skills to work in a team, which most women are known for.
Another fact is that women with enthusiasm, passion and strive for success in the field of engineering should work towards it and actualize their dream. You need to go where your heart leads you. Be flexible and opportunistic, maximize your potentials rather than looking at what limits it and be compromised. Stretch yourself stating that “there is no such thing as failure”, face challenges as they come and never give up on your dream.
If something comes up, jump on it. If it doesn’t work out, it’s not a disaster; you can always go back and prove your critics wrong.
Focus on being an engineer rather than worrying about being a woman in a male-dominated environment. Do not allow domestic worries impact upon your confidence and focus at school, finally, welcome challenges as a gift to grow and get to the next level.
Things are improving, and we are slowly seeing more young women enter the profession. But it is important for the industry, educators and government to continue their efforts and ensure women make a significant contribution to engineering future.
By Engr. Adegoke Oluwaseun Adesoji
Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering
University of Maiduguri